Book 4 of The River: The Mainstream

by Lewis MacAdams


                                            At first
she displayed all the signs:
                           her lashes went on forever.
               When the flood tossed the carp
up on the river bank,
                              she guided it back into the water
                  with her hands.
          When the hawk swooped past us in the parking lot
                                    she noted that
                          “hawks seem to follow you around.”
I don’t know if this is politically correct or not, but

            when she curled her bare toes
                          around the lip of the concrete
it drove me wild.
            The last time I saw her she told me
                    I was unknowable; and
               then the phone calls stopped
                      followed swiftly by the cessation of E mails,
more silence, and
         the water dripping off the elderberry
  in the rain.           

              Spray paint can in a hurry to get to the ocean,
                                 a basketball bouncing in the chocolate foam.
Ankle deep floodwaters wash across the new bike path
         where it curves
                               around the base
        of Merrill Butler’s beautiful
                         bridge at Fletcher Drive.
“What is a white pelican doing there ?” I wondered,
standing on the levee by itself,
              staring at the rushing river ?
                                               I thought it might be wounded
     so I approached carefully,
                      but it suddenly flapped away,
heading downstream
               towards the sea and safety and sanity.                      

“THINK signs will never give way to DREAM signs” Gregory Corso writes in
his poem, “Power.” Whereas John Tottenham muses bitterly that “My life is a
raging river of regrets flowing into a sea of shame.”

Does the river

mean anything more to me

than money ?

How many evenings
have I slumped dead tired in the driver’s seat of my Prius
backed into a narrow parking place
gathering my strength
and my strategies
to make it up the ramp
past the roaches and the rats
and the shuffling zombies
to my sky cave ?

Did they once eke out a living
shining people’s shoes or
carrying their luggage
before surrendering to
diabetes and crack and the
filthy final wheelchair, still wearing
a shirt with the word SECURITY
sewn on the back
even though there is none anywhere.